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How Not to Do Follow-Up Emails

Follow Up Emails

Here's a cautionary tale, from Alex Timlin on dma.org.uk, of what goes wrong if you create emails such as "purchase follow-up" in the office and never check how they appear to a real shopper.


I ordered the shoes I wanted, they had joined up their online and the offline activity and as a customer I was getting what I wanted. So I ordered at the check-out in store, gave them my email address and was told to expect an email...

The confirmation email I received came several days later at the same time as three other emails into my personal Gmail account...

The first email, (from ‘comments’!?) told me I had signed up to their VIP programme (I’ve made one purchase and have yet to receive the goods, why am I a VIP?). This email gave me 10% off my first online purchase (the call to action is to cancel my existing order and reorder online for a 10% discount?). Good to know they’re concerned with saving me money, at least.

The second email, sent at an identical time again from ‘comments’, was an order confirmation email which was so poorly rendered in Gmail that I couldn’t actually see what I had bought, what it cost and when it would arrive (I had been charged shipping that wasn’t explained to me in-store) and the order tracking link to a Royal Mail delivery service was broken.

There was no way to contact their customer service team in the email, no contact email, no contact number and it’s incredibly difficult on the website – they direct me back to the local store, which in the email was different to the store where I made my purchase!

The third email, again from “comments”, came nine days later confirming that the items had been dispatched – and I was told in-store that they were in stock at the time. At this stage, I still have not been told how much my items in the basket were or the cost of shipping, the delivery link to Royal Mail still does not work and I still don’t have any contact details for customer services. I don’t know when they are being delivered and how much they have already cost me, I needed to check my online banking to see how much I’d been charged. Outrageous!

I eventually got the products I ordered in-store two weeks after I had purchased them. 

There's a simple solution 

One of your directors (or a family member) should act as a secret shopper: purchase occasional products and check out the process - right through to returning some of them. Ideally the secret shopper whould be someone to do this who would normally buy and use your type of products, in which case it's called "dogfooding". And tell your email team, so they know their work is valuable.

Want to find out more?